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Creating the future: Designworks opens new studio in Santa Monica.

+++ BMW Group subsidiary delivers cross-industry impetus for innovation, design and sustainability. +++ Creative environment inspires the future of mobility. +++ Digital processes open new possibilities for creativity and communications in the field of design. +++

Design issues, Concepts and Studies
BMW Group Design
Alternative Drive Systems, Mobility of the Future

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BMW Group

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Edgar Tellez
BMW Group

Munich/Santa Monica. Designworks is opening a new studio in Santa Monica, CA, close to one of the most important and complex mobility hubs in the world, and in the heart of “Silicon Beach” – the trendsetting design, media, and technology hotspot of Southern California.  With a mission to shape the future of mobility, Designworks’ new studio will draw inspiration from this environment in its work on behalf of the BMW Group, and with clients from numerous other industries ranging from mobility and transportation to consumer electronics, charging infrastructure and interior spaces.  As both a design studio and creative think tank Designworks identifies global trends and provides inspiration in the fields of innovation, design, and sustainability.

New location gears up Designworks LA for the future.
Over the past 50 years, Designworks’ capabilities and business have expanded: from initially creating classic clay models for vehicle design to developing holistic mobility solutions that serve the whole ecosystem of urban spaces.

“Santa Monica is a test bed for the innovative and sustainable mobility solutions of tomorrow,” says Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President, BMW Group Design and a former Head of Designworks. “Designworks will generate valuable impetus, inspiration, and new ideas for the design of the BMW Group brands right here.”

The new studio, covering an area of about 16,500 square feet, is the largest of the three global Designworks studios including locations in Munich and Shanghai. The structure and equipment of the each of these facilities support the transformation from physical to digital design and development.

“Our new studio allows us to fully exploit the freedoms digitalization gives us,” said the Head of Designworks, Holger Hampf. “Personal interaction remains a focal point, but we do work differently in Santa Monica: In this new workspace, our processes are geared towards virtual communication, and we are able to bring the results of our work to life for clients in an entirely new way.

Integrating art and design to shape the future.
The official opening of the new Designworks studio will coincide with Frieze Los Angeles, the art show which the BMW Group has supported as a partner for years. From February 16-19, creatives and art lovers from around the world will gather at the exhibition space at Santa Monica Airport. The combination of art and design has traditionally played a major role in BMW Group Design's creative work. “Artists and designers alike are forward thinkers who question the status quo, speed up the transformation and shape the future,” says van Hooydonk, “– like the artist Thomas Demand: He and I both share an intense interest in social and cultural developments that helps us assess how relevant our work is for the future.”

The extent to which art and design can be mutually inspiring was exemplified in the run-up to the presentation of the BMW Vision M NEXT in 2019. Adrian van Hooydonk invited German artist and university lecturer Prof. Thomas Demand to photograph the Vision Vehicle well in advance of the official unveiling. Demand built parts of the car in paper that captured the central ideas of the vehicle in an artistic manner. He photographed them without revealing the full design and these became the first images of the car that were revealed by BMW. 

Designworks as the BMW Group's creative think tank.
As a BMW Group subsidiary, Designworks is involved in many internal design projects within the company. Further, the sharing of ideas and expertise developed through the studio’s work with external clients from other sectors provides an “outside-in” perspective which helps to inform and enrich the development of the company’s user centric approach.  In this way, Designworks developed two innovative seat studies for the BMW brand that combine sustainability with visionary design. In cooperation with start-ups, it is also experimenting with completely new production methods and environmentally compatible, recyclable materials, such as bacteria-based, plastic-free and non-animal textiles that give surfaces a high-quality look and feel and provide high durability.

The BMW M Hybrid V8 race car, which recently debuted at the 24 Hours of Daytona originated from Designworks. Its design combines traditional details with the technology required for efficient performance on the racetrack. The paintwork recalls the colours of classic race cars and brings elements of five decades of motorsports history into the present day.

For the most recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Designworks created a special app to accompany the presentation of the BMW i Vision Dee, a future-focused vision vehicle featuring color changing E Ink technology. The app enables users to create a “digital twin” of the vehicle in any color or pattern with their smartphone, and project it virtually onto any background, demonstrating how the concept could live in the real and the virtual worlds. 

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